CEO Defined

24 Entrepreneurs Explain What Being a CEO Means to Them

Here at CB Nation, we love to hear what being a CEO means to different entrepreneurs and CEOs. We understand it entails great responsibility and expectations from both the clients and the team you’re leading but its meaning varies with each CEO.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their definition of the word CEO and here’s what they had to say.

#1- Decision maker

Photo Credit: Jake Smith

The highest-ranking individual in a firm or organization is the Chief Executive Officer. The CEO is in charge of a company's or organization's overall success as well as making top-level management choices. They may seek advice on major matters, but they have the last say when it comes to making decisions. The CEO is frequently a member of the board of directors, and in some cases, the chairwoman.

Thanks to Jake Smith, Absolute Reg! 

#2- Team building and empowerment

Photo Credit: Edward Mallet

In my opinion, within an organization, the CEO has two major responsibilities: Team building and empowerment. To assemble a team, the CEO must constantly consider the positions that need to be filled and search out individuals with the necessary abilities, experience, and cultural fit. Because employing someone on your team is a major commitment, the CEO must take this obligation extremely seriously. After you've put together a team, it's time to delegate authority and get out of the way. As CEO, it's also critical to ensure that each member of the team has the opportunity to learn and grow.

Thanks to Edward Mallet, Wiki Job!

#3- Showing leadership

Photo Credit: Sam Browne

As a CEO, I believe that being an effective leader is what the CEO does. It's someone who knows how to strike a good work-life balance. When times are rough, a great CEO isn't overly emotional, but when they are, he or she exemplifies compassion and understanding. They strike a balance between a relaxed atmosphere and high standards and demands. A CEO inspires others by managing work effectively, being fair, and leading by example.

Thanks to Sam Browne, Find a Band!

#4- Removing barriers

Photo Credit: Chris Nutbeen

Being a CEO means removing barriers from the way so skilled people on your team can operate at the highest level. It means setting the trend for the company, leading by example, and influencing directly at a single North Star (and continually reminding everyone of it). Finally, a CEO is answerable for creating opportunities not just in a unique business deal flow sense, but, opportunities for the team to improve, learn and invest in something bigger than any one individual.

Thanks to Chris Nutbeen, Nuttifox!

#5- Being strategic

Photo Credit: Shawn Plummer

To me, being a CEO means having a strategic view of the business and how we need to move forward. It's about hiring and retaining the best talent in the company and bringing them together to execute the strategy. Finally, it's also managing our resources well so that we stay in the green while achieving our goals. It does feel like being the captain of the ship, deciding where we're going, hiring the best crew, and making sure we have enough resources to look after everyone and defend ourselves.

Thanks to Stewart Shwan Plummer, The Annuity Expert!

#6- Managing the public story

Photo Credit: John M. Bertino

As the CEO, you are in charge of your company's public image. Great CEOs are the best spokespersons for their companies. They persuade the general public, investors, and consumers to believe in their goal, which can have a significant impact on the success of your company. Investors have bought into our story because we continuously achieve growth outcomes and tell the same story, allowing our company to boost its worth considerably despite modest earnings and a focus on market share and cash flow.

Thanks to John M. Bertino, The Agency Guy!

#7- Challenging yourself

Photo Credit: Will Cannon

Being a CEO means to keep Challenging myself for the better. Being a CEO, in my opinion, is not only about making deals and earning wealth/repute, it is more about growing within yourself. That is efficiently done when a CEO constantly challenges him/herself by setting up new tasks and aims, both for in-office and outside repute of the business. That's where a CEO learns how to compose oneself, the entire team, customer, and still achieving great results for the business.

Thanks to Will Cannon, Signaturely!

#8- Transitioning to business owner

Photo Credit: Matt Pasut

The moment in time when an entrepreneur can officially claim the title CEO is when they make the transition from Business Operator to Business Owner. This is when they realize that they’ve built a strong team around them that is capable of handling the day-to-day operations of the company. Processes and systems are in place, and they're free to develop strategies and analyze the needs of the business.

Thanks to Matt Pasut, CR Creative Co. Ltd!

#9- Being a role model

Photo Credit: Francisco Remolino

A CEO is a role model. People work hard for you if you walk your talk. Letting your employees feel that you know what it feels like to walk in their shoes inspires them to contribute more and be loyal which makes teamwork and collaboration easier. Consequently, being a compassionate leader is difficult because you can't avoid making decisions that will break the hearts of people who believe in you. Therefore, I strive to be a CEO whose integrity is intact at all times.

Thanks to Francisco Remolino, Remolino Associates!

#10- Being a leader

Photo Credit: Jack Altmen

My definition of being a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is an amazing leader. It's someone who is not too emotional nor too tough, the reason behind it is that if he becomes too emotional. He cannot make bold decisions when the time is tough, and neither too tough because he needs to make sure that the other employees should be motivated too to bring amazing outcomes. As the CEO of the company, you have to make the right decisions at the right time.

Thanks to Jack Altmen, Think Orion!

#11- Being a parent

Photo Credit: Tyler Garns

Being a CEO for me is like being a parent. Your team and your business are your children. Providing them their needs is your most significant responsibility; that is why you become very cautious in every decision you make. Letting them down is not part of your vocabulary, making you strive hard and be consistently strong. And of course, what would a parent do to his children? Love them dearly.

Thanks to Tyler Garns,  Box Out Marketing!

#12- Exercising moral duty

Photo Credit: Caroline Lee

For me, being a CEO is a chance of defining the course of my business and my team. It’s a major responsibility that’s also highly fulfilling. Being aware that the whole teams’ future depends upon the decision I make is a huge moral duty. Then, when you see the team and the business growing, it gives immense satisfaction. Running a business is no cakewalk but realizing that our services are making people's lives easier makes it worth the hustle.

Thanks to Caroline Lee, Coco Sign!

#13- Being a visionary

Photo Credit: Lauren LeMunyan

A CEO is someone who sees the big picture and beyond, who rallies and recruits in the talent to actualize the vision, who sets the tone of the culture, vision, and mission. A CEO is the face of the brand and becomes the voice of the why and direction. A CEO is the point person to make critical decisions in times of crisis, growth, and change. A CEO is a person who people look to find reason and relevance for the work they do.

Thanks to Lauren LeMunyan, Spitfire Coach!

#14- Displaying leadership

Photo Credit: Jonathan Kazarian

Being a CEO means displaying effective leadership at all times — making critical decisions, supporting and trusting your team, nurturing positive work culture, and listening more than you speak. I’m constantly thinking about the company’s sustainability and asking how we can do better. It’s imperative to have a clear vision while also being open to change and flexibility along the way. Particularly at a SaaS start-up, it requires constant iteration, adaptation, and creativity to ensure your company and product stand out from the crowd.

Thanks to Jonathan Kazarian, Accelevents!

#15- Business networking

Photo Credit: Christian Velitchkov

Great CEOs always look for business networks for the growth of their company. It can include uncovering potential acquisition opportunities, attending some industry events, sharing some of the challenges with their peers or mentors, etc. The foundation of having a good business is the ability to create relationships. CEOs feel that their ideas should be shared with their team so that they can collect more ideas and improvise them. They also give credit to their team whenever it is due.

Thanks to Christian Velitchkov, Twiz LLC!

#16- Having people skills

Photo Credit: Hilda Wong

Great CEOs are good with people. They are amazing at inspiring and motivating people. They also understand their needs and support them. They have a feeling of self-awareness and a high emotional IQ which helps them in motivating people a lot. They are good at understanding outward behavior as an expression of inner needs. CEOs who have people skills are known to be charismatic, able to inspire and move people to action by just letting them know their feelings are valid.

Thanks to Hilda Wong, Content Dog!

#17- Converting possibility into reality

Photo Credit: Brack Nelson

As a CEO watching an opportunity and assembling the sources to turn a possibility into a realism. It shows the freedom to envision something fresh and to make it appear.  Additionally, a CEO should be pragmatic because technology and life are so dynamic that not only do you need the vitality to always be going and standing ahead, but you desire to retrain your thought process to drift away from the optimistic way of operating business and choose a forward-thinking, pragmatic concept.

Thanks to Brack Nelson Incrementors Web Solution!

#18- Always learning

Photo Credit: Leonardo Gomez

Great CEOs are always looking up opportunities to learn. In a study, it was found that successful CEOs have a reading habit. They have a habit of reading 5-6 books per day to make their company grow. They are also good with their customers. They quickly understand them, market, and also know how to transform the organization when it needs changes. They have a high cognitive skill to solve most complex problems creatively. They feel that change is necessary and focus their time on learning. They also look forward to transforming things to make their organization better.

Thanks to Leonardo Gomez, Try Runball!

#19- Taking responsibility

Photo Credit: Rachel Knutson Kobold

While there are many aspects of being a CEO that define the role for me, the most compelling facet is the responsibility to take care of those we are fortunate enough to have on our team. People and their families rely on the success of our business to make ends meet – a consistent paycheck, health, and dental insurance, a central point in their daily life. If something jeopardizes our business, it will not just affect me and my partners. It puts every person that works for me at risk. I take that responsibility very seriously and it impacts every decision made.

Thanks to Rachel Knutson Kobold, Beyond Warehousing!

#20- Being resilient

Photo Credit: Jacob Dayan

Being a CEO means cultivating a team to be the best through resilience. Having this position means going through multiple sacrifices, trial, and error, and unexpected complications to be the best leader for others. Cultivating a team to have the same capabilities of pushing through hard times is considered a success. Having resilience through tough times will take time but being able to see them as an opportunity for growth rather than a problem, is a step in the right direction.

Thanks to Jacob Dayan, Community Tax!

#21- Building a master plan

Photo Credit: Noyan Alperen IDIN

Running a business is a hard thing. You need to determine what to do next, and the decision must be correct, or you have to learn from your mistakes quickly. Of course, you are not alone in the company, there are your teammates, departments & your decision affects everything. If your aims don’t resonate with the team, this is the receipt of failure, everyone in the company needs to know exactly what is the company is trying to achieve. I think the ultimate goal of the CEO is to build a correct strategy and removing possible blocks on the communication and build new policies to embrace it.

Thanks to Noyan Alperen IDIN, Decktopus!

#22- Focusing on diversity

Photo Credit: Adam Povlitz

A good CEO adapts to the strengths of their staff, not the other way around. A great CEO does both. Executing a focus on diversity and inclusion brings together ideas and viewpoints from various points of human representation. Through this process, understand the obstacles and conquer them as a team. This means knowing when to lead and knowing when to listen. This approach provides opportunities to lead by example.

Thanks to Adam Povlitz, Anago Cleaning Systems!

#23- Having commitment & dependability

Photo Credit: Devin Schumacher

You’ll hear a lot of advice on work-life balance, but for me, commitment contributes a more significant role in one’s success as a CEO. Unshakable devotion will push you to work your fingers to the bone. Another essential trait for every CEO is dependability. Supervisors with the mental fortitude to stay on top of things will exude a more commanding and authoritative presence. Your employees need a leader, not another buddy. CEOs should have confidence. You cannot expect others to follow a leader that does not believe in themselves.

Thanks to Devin Schumacher,  SERP!

#24- Being analytic

Photo Credit: Cody Crawford

One of the great things about being a CEO is that you can't be a complainer or a whiner. You must problem solve. If things in the company are not going well, it is ultimately your fault. Being CEO comes with a silent, invisible, and yet insanely high bar for consistency. People often blame management for this or that, and they are mostly right, which brings me to my point. At the top of the ladder, you and you alone set the execution model in your company.

Thanks to Cody Crawford, Low Offset!

What does being a CEO mean to you (define being a CEO, entrepreneur, or business owner)? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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One Comment

  1. In my opinion CEOs should have a great deal of compassion and care very much about their organization and their subordinates. But as humans we tend to let ego get in the way and positions of power are notoriously tempting to exploit. The best CEOs invent, innovate and then execute a plan to commercialize the innovations. Their passion propelled their company forward and their singular focus on the mission was instrumental in creating success. Any CEO with the shared vision has my respect. While I don’t think CEOs are as useful as many claim, I would definitely support one that had passion and ethics.

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